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‘The Negro Motorist Green Book’: An eye-opening look at ‘traveling while black’ in postwar America


 
For some fascinating insights into the second half (roughly) of the pitiable era known as “Jim Crow,” the Negro Motorist Green Book is a positive trove of information. It was founded in 1936 by an African-American employee of the U.S. Postal Service named Victor H. Green, who realized that with the new availability of automobiles to a rising African-American middle class, travelers of his race increasingly required a guide to navigate the informal and treacherous logic of discrimination. The segregation of public transport made private ownership of motorcars highly attractive to the mobile African-American, and in addition there were increasing numbers of African-American athletes and entertainers who required to travel as a part of their work. George Schuyler put it well in 1930: “All Negroes who can do so purchase an automobile as soon as possible in order to be free of discomfort, discrimination, segregation and insult.”
 
Victor H. Green
Victor H. Green
 
In many parts of America white-run hotels, restaurants, and garages would refuse to serve African-Americans or fix their vehicles. Furthermore, while avoiding public transportation made sense, that did not shield African-American travelers from the ire of whites who might find an African-American with an automobile “uppity” or the like. In short, traveling around in America as an African-American was no joke (for many non-whites, it is still not a trifling matter today, however, the U.S. has seen some improvements in these areas in the last several decades). The purpose of the Green Book was to illustrate where African-Americans could safely travel and find food, entertainment (night clubs), lodging, and other services such as tailors.
 
Negros Barred
 
On the cover of the 1949 edition is a hopeful quotation from Mark Twain: “Travel Is Fatal to Prejudice.” The guide makes frequent reference to the necessarily incomplete quality of its information and repeatedly urges readers to inform hotels and restaurants about the Green Book so that the succeeding year’s information might become more complete. Here are a few lines from the introduction:
 

With the introduction of this travel guide in 1936, it has been our idea to give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trips more enjoyable.

The Jewish press has long published information about places that are restricted and there are numerous publications that give the gentile whites all kinds of information. But during these long years of discrimination, before 1936 other guides have been published for the Negro, some are still published, but the majority have gone out of business for various reasons.

 
Negro Motorist Green Book
 
The guide is essentially not much more than a long list, organized by state, of businesses that will cater to African-Americans. An example from my current home city of Cleveland:
 
Cleveland Green Book
 
To read the entries for Cleveland and Staten Island and Providence, some of the places I’ve made my home, is to give these familiar landscapes an entirely new and menacing character.

The introduction ends with the following paragraph, which if you’re anything like me will tear your heart out in its simple, plaintive confidence that better days must be on the way:
 

There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment. But until that time comes we shall continue to publish this information for your convenience each year.

 
The Green Book lasted until the Civil Rights era, when ambitious new legislation passed by Congress made the book all but obsolete. We are sadly not in a country where African-Americans have “equal opportunities and privileges,” but we are closer to that goal—there is no Green Book today, after all (or maybe I just don’t know about it?). Someday, perhaps, the existence of the Green Book in the mid-20th century will not be perceived as a statement of the obvious—that the United States can be a very dangerous place for African-Americans—but rather as an outlandish artifact of long-outdated hatreds.

You can download the entire 1949 edition of the Negro Motorist Green Book here.

Here is a brief documentary about the Green Book:
 

 
via Map of the Week
 
Thank you Lawrence Daniel Caswell!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Women taking photobooth ‘selfies’ from the 1900s to the 1970s (and beyond)
08.01.2014
10:21 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
photobooth
selfies

1950bpbw.jpg
 
Going to the photobooth at the local Woolworth’s was a special event, which meant getting dressed up, smoothing down hair, wearing those clothes kept for Jesus on a Sunday. This was a chance to show what you were truly like to a loved one, or a friend, or a distant relation, or maybe a blank official stamping your passport. The photobooth was a private place to show your public face, to be seen how you wanted the world to see you.

In the 1970s, I recall how a lot of teenagers spent their money crammed in photobooths taking a strip of four snaps that sealed their love or friendship, or some idealised vision of themselves. The local bus stop had a large glass covered map of the city detailing the bus routes and times. Into this glass display were slipped dozens of photobooth portraits of youngsters (looking straight at camera) wanting some kind of recognition for being alive, like a low-tech Facebook

The patent for the first photobooth machine was filed by William Pope and Edward Poole of Baltimore in 1888. Apparently it was never built, and the first working model didn’t appear until French inventor T. E. Enjalbert produced one for the World Fair in Paris in 1889. This was followed by the first commercially available photobooth called the “Bosco“ and created by Conrad Bernitt in 1890.

The modern photobooth as we know it today only came into common use when Anatol Josepho arrived in New York from Russia in 1923, and established the first 25c photobooth on Broadway in 1925. The booth took ten minutes to produce eight photos, and during its first six months was used by 280,000 people.

This selection of women taking pictures, reveals how the privacy of the booth allowed people to express themselves—as can be seen in the pictures of two women sharing their love for each other, circa 1900s, when such signs of affection were not permissible.
 
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1970bpbw.jpg
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Behold Apple’s hilariously AWFUL fashion line of 1986
07.30.2014
07:10 am

Topics:
Fashion
History

Tags:
Apple

Apple Collection
 
You know, I watched that whole movie about Steve Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher a few weeks ago, and not once did the movie address Apple’s 1986 attempt to show the fashion world how it’s done. This move made perfect sense. Apple had already brought a heightened sense of style and functionality to the worlds of computers and… well, computers, so it was a natural to assume that the world was waiting to see what Cupertino had to say on the subject of Kevlar-reinforced sportswear.

As stated in the catalog—swear to god—“After a rough day windsurfing, the Apple sweatshirt is just the thing.” The catalog also included fashions for tots, a toy Apple semi as well as a bitchin’ sailboard that ran a cool $1100. 
 
Apple Collection
 
Apple Collection
 
Apple Collection
 
Apple Collection
 
Apple Collection
 
Apple Collection
 
Apple Collection
 
Apple Collection
 
Apple Collection
 
After the jump, selections from the Apple Collection catalog…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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President Lyndon B. Johnson informs his tailor that his new pants must respect his ‘bunghole’
07.29.2014
08:23 am

Topics:
Fashion
History
Politics

Tags:
Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson
 
On August 9, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson decided that he needed some new pants, so he got on the horn and called the Haggar Clothing Co. based in Dallas, Texas, and ordered himself up a new set, along with some shirts and jackets. That call has become something of a classic among presidential archive fans, for entirely obvious reasons: in his colorful, home-spun style, Johnson uses vivid language in describing “the crotch, down where your nuts hang” as well as describing an area we would today call “the taint”: “where the zipper ends, round under my ... back to my bunghole.” (Hilariously, LBJ belches right in the middle of that last description.)

Johnson lets on that his weight varies by “10 or 15 pounds a month”; add in the fact that Johnson nicknamed his penis “Jumbo” and it’s quite clear that the man needed a fair amount of space down there, lest the pants “cut” him “just like riding a wire fence.” Ouch. Any guy who has worn pants that are a bit too tight can relate.

Here’s a full transcript, from American RadioWorks:
 

Operator: Go ahead sir

LBJ: Mr. Haggar?

JH: Yes this is Joe Haggar

LBJ: Joe, is your father the one that makes clothes?

JH: Yes sir—we’re all together

LBJ: Uh huh. You all made me some real lightweight slacks, uh, that he just made up on his own and sent to me 3 or 4 months ago. There’s a light brown and a light green, a rather soft green, a soft brown.

JH: Yes sir

LBJ: and they’re real lightweight now and I need about six pairs for summer wear.

JH: yes sir

LBJ: I want a couple, maybe three of the light brown kind of a almost powder color like a powder on a ladies face. Then they were some green and some light pair, if you had a blue in that or a black, then I’d have one blue and one black. I need about six pairs to wear around in the evening when I come in from work

JH: yes sir

LBJ: I need…they’re about a half a inch too tight in the waist.

JH: Do you recall sir the exact size, I just want to make sure we get them right for you

LBJ: No, I don’t know—you all just guessed at ‘em I think, some—wouldn’t you the measurement there?

JH: we can find it for you

LBJ: well I can send you a pair. I want them half a inch larger in the waist than they were before except I want two or three inches of stuff left back in there so I can take them up. I vary ten or 15 pounds a month.

JH: alright sir

LBJ: So leave me at least two and a half, three inches in the back where I can let them out or take them up. And make these a half an inch bigger in the waist. And make the pockets at least an inch longer, my money, my knife, everything falls out—wait just a minute.

Operator: Would you hold on a minute please?

[conversation on hold for two minutes]

LBJ: Now the pockets, when you sit down, everything falls out, your money, your knife, everything, so I need at least another inch in the pockets. And another thing—the crotch, down where your nuts hang—is always a little too tight, so when you make them up, give me an inch that I can let out there, uh because they cut me, it’s just like riding a wire fence. These are almost, these are the best I’ve had anywhere in the United States,

JH: Fine

LBJ: But, uh when I gain a little weight they cut me under there. So, leave me , you never do have much of margin there. See if you can’t leave me an inch from where the zipper (burps) ends, round, under my, back to my bunghole, so I can let it out there if I need to.

JH: Right

LBJ: Now be sure you have the best zippers in them. These are good that I have. If you get those to me I would sure be grateful

JH: Fine, Now where would you like them sent please?

LBJ: White House.

JH: Fine

LBJ: Now, uh, I don’t guess there is any chance of getting a very lightweight shirt, sport shirt to go with that slack, is there? That same color?

JH: We don’t make them, but we can have them made up for you.

LBJ: If you might look around, I wear about a 17, extra long.

JH: Would you like in the same fabric?

LBJ: Yeah I sure would, I don’t know whether that’s too heavy for a shirt.

JH: I think it’d be too heavy for a shirt.

LBJ: I sure want the lightest I can, in the same color or matching it. If you don’t mind, find me somebody up there who makes good shirts and make a shirt to match each one of them and if they’re good, we’ll order some more.

JH: Fine

LBJ: I just sure will appreciate this, I need it more than anything. And uh, now that’s a..about it. I guess I could get a jacket made outta that if I wanted to, couldn’t I?

JH: I think that—didn’t Sam Haggar have some jackets made?

LBJ: Yeah you sent me some jackets some earlier, but they were way too short. They hit me about halfway down my belly. I have a much longer waist. But I thought if they had material like that and somebody could make me a jacket, I’d sent them a sample to copy from.

JH: Well I tell you what, you send us this, we’ll find someone to make it

LBJ:ok

JH: We’ll supply the material to match it

LBJ: Ok, I’ll do that. Uh now, how do I—can you give this boy the address because I’m running to a funeral and give this boy the address to where we can send the trousers—don’t worry, you’ll get the measurements out of them and add a half an inch to the back and an give us couple of an inch to the pockets and a inch underneath to we can let them out.

JH: What you ‘d like is a little more stride in the crotch

LBJ: Yeah that’s right. What I’d like is to give me a half a inch more then leave me some more. Ok here he is.

JH: Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the others

 
Here’s a cute animation of the call by Tawd Dorenfeld for Jesse Thorn’s Put This On:
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Fancy Dress Balls’: Get a load of this Victorian-era cosplay
07.28.2014
11:41 am

Topics:
Fashion
History

Tags:
costumes


 
As someone who used to be a costume designer, I find these images of Victorians in their finest costume threads intriguing. I have to admire all the tailoring and all the hard work that went into costumes and extravagant gowns/suits. These outfits put any Halloween or Comic-Con creation to shame. Okay, maybe not all Comic-Con cosplay, there were some out-of-this-world creations spotted in San Diego this year.

But damn! The Victorians knew how do it!


 

 

 

 

 
More images after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Proto-Atkins, suction & ‘the rack’: Weight-loss fads in 50s Britain were as stupid as they are now
07.25.2014
08:01 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
diets


 
Nothing is quite so reassuring as proof that the neuroses of humanity remain historically unchanged. Despite the prevailing myth that at some magical point in time, people were both naturally healthy and naturally hot, diet and exercise fads have always existed. This 1958 footage from British Pathé—which leads with “Take heart, girls, you can reduce without starvation diet!”—has a couple of super-weird “human interest” features on how to keep skinny.

There is a sort of pre-Paleo, proto-Atkins diet from a doctor who guesses that we were way healthier before the advent of agriculture gave us delicious, wonderful potatoes and bread (if you can’t tell, I have no patience for such chicanery). There are models doing what looks like the most genteel, ladylike, and totally ineffectual exercise ever. There’s a terrifying suction machine, and my favorite... “the rack,” which stretches out your body to “tone muscles” and is named after a popular pre-Enlightenment torture device.

You laugh, but I’m sure you’ll see at least five ads for a purportedly magical diet food on the Internet today—at least the old fashioned rack doesn’t preclude mashed potatoes. Just beware of the Spanish Inquisition when you’re using it, okay?
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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The strange, but true, story behind the Beatles’ ‘She’s Leaving Home’
07.24.2014
11:29 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
Beatles

image
 

John and I wrote “She’s Leaving Home together.” It was my inspiration. We’d seen a story in the newspaper about a young girl who’d left home and not been found, there were a lot of those at the time, and that was enough to give us a story line. So I started to get the lyrics: she slips out and leaves a note and then the parents wake up ... It was rather poignant. I like it as a song, and when I showed it to John, he added the long sustained notes, and one of the nice things about the structure of the song is that it stays on those chords endlessly. Before that period in our song-writing we would have changed chords but it stays on the C chord. It really holds you. It’s a really nice little trick and I think it worked very well.

While I was showing that to John, he was doing the Greek chorus, the parents’ view: ‘We gave her most of our lives, we gave her everything money could buy.’ I think that may have been in the runaway story, it might have been a quote from the parents. Then there’s the famous little line about a man from the motor trade; people have since said that was Terry Doran, who was a friend who worked in a car showroom, but it was just fiction, like the sea captain in “Yellow Submarine”, they weren’t real people.

—Paul McCartney to Barry Miles in 1997

The Daily Mirror story that inspired “She’s Leaving Home” was about Melanie Coe, then aged 17. “Wild child” Coe snuck out of her parents’ comfortable North London home in February of 1967. She was pregnant and afraid of what her mother might do, but had not run off with the father of her unborn child—or “a man from the motor trade,” for that matter—but rather with a croupier she’d just met. They shacked up for ten days before her parents found her. She returned home and had an abortion.

But here’s the weird part: three years earlier Coe had actually met Paul McCartney when he was the judge of a miming contest that Coe won on Ready, Steady, Go! Coe mimed to Brenda Lee’s “Let’s Jump The Broomstick” and Macca gave her the award. Winning the contest meant Coe would be a dancer on the show for an entire year.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The first film footage of Palestine circa 1896
07.23.2014
07:53 am

Topics:
History
Movies

Tags:
Palestine
Lumière Brothers

palepicpopestine.jpg
 
Like an early Google Street View, the French movie pioneers brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière sent cameramen over to Palestine in 1896 to shoot the first moving images of life in the region. 

At this time, Palestine was a remnant of the Ottoman Empire with around 500,000 inhabitants—30,000 of whom lived in Jerusalem. 85% of the population were Muslim, 10% Christian and 5% were Jewish. All were subjects of the Sultan of Constantinople.

This incredible footage comes from the 93 reels recovered by Lobster Films, a film preservation company based in Paris, in 2007. Serge Bromberg, the company’s co-founder said:

…this year, we have something very special to show. In an antique shop, we have discovered 93 wonderful little camera negatives from c. 1897, all shot in the Middle East (Jerusalem, Palestine, Egypt.[...] etc), that would form an ideal 80 [minute] program of what could be among the earliest films shot in the region still in existence. … They are in wonderful condition … Not a scratch, no decomposition, and those little sprocket holes typical of the films of that year.

The clip of the Lumière’s footage shown below comes from the documentary Palestine: histoire d’une terre 1880-1950.
 

 
H/T Sabotage Times

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Hitler’s fake passport
07.23.2014
05:32 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
Adolf Hitler

hitsocimglersmall
 
Adolf Hitler’s fake passport as created by the British Special Operations Executive during the Second World War.

The SOE was established in July 1940 to organise resistance in Nazi-occupied countries. British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill ordered the SOE to “set Europe ablaze.” Hundreds of agents were sent over to France to infiltrate, spy and cause disruption to the invading German army. Key to their success was the manufacture of counterfeit identity cards and passports. These were of such quality that the SOE produced a fake passport for Adolf Hitler, which identified the Nazi dictator as Jewish “with a little moustache” and giving Mr. Hitler entry into Palestine.
 
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Via the National Archives.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER’: The speech Nixon would have given if lunar landing had failed
07.21.2014
07:53 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
NASA
Richard Nixon
Apollo 11


 
Prior to the July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing, one of President Richard Nixon’s speechwriters, William Safire, who later became a long-standing political columnist, wrote a speech for Nixon to give in case the mission failed and the astronauts were stranded on the Moon. “In Event of Moon Disaster” was originally sent as a memo, dated July 18, 1969, to Nixon’s chief of staff H.R. Haldeman and is yet another argument against the moon landing being a hoax:

IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER:

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by the nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.


PRIOR TO THE PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT:

The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.


AFTER THE PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT, AT THE POINT WHEN NASA ENDS COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE MEN:

A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to “the deepest of the deep,” concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.

 
natarchivemoon1
 
natarchivemoon2
 
NASA’s 45th anniversary of moon landing original resource reel:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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